A Tory MP has provoked fury by accusing Britain’s black police leaders of being racist.
David Davies said black police representatives in London had behaved worse than the apartheid regime in South Africa by urging ethnic minorities not to join the Metropolitan Police force.
In a speech to the National Black Police Association annual conference, he also slammed the organisation for not allowing white people interested in fighting racism to become full members.
His comments sparked an angry reaction from delegates. Up to a dozen walked out in protest and others slow-handclapped the MP for Monmouth, who was likened to a BNP extremist.
Many members had expected the more famous former shadow home secretary to be speaking and few recognised his namesake, who is also a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, when he stood up to speak.
But minutes later they were left open-mouthed by his straight-talking criticism of them.
Mr Davies, 38, told them the Black Police Association should do more to ‘build trust and mutual respect between members of all races and religions within the force.’
He added :’To me it is a shame that full membership of the BPA is open only to those of black, Asian or Middle Eastern origin.
‘Tackling racism and unfair treatment of ethnic minorities is something which is taken seriously by members of every race in the police force and yet the clear implication of such a policy is that white people do not share this concern.’
He said many white officers mistrusted the BPA because they were denied membership by a policy which ‘would be unacceptable and probably illegal in virtually any other organisation in this country.’
Commenting on the race row embroiling the Metropolitan Police, Mr Davies pulled no punches.
‘As a result of the decision to actively discourage members of the ethnic minorities from joining the Met, the BPA has become the only publicly-funded organisation to say that the police should be for whites only. That cannot be acceptable.’
He went on: ‘Not even the apartheid regime in South Africa prevented black and Asian people from joining the police force, where on earth are we going?’
Mr Davies said the BPA should follow the former Commission for Racial Equality and also be willing to represent white officers who have suffered discrimination at employment tribunals. He said black police leaders should ‘not act and speak up for every ethnic group bar one.’
Later, in a question and answer session, Mr Davies was forced to fend off a barrage of criticism, telling the conference: ‘You invited me to come here, if you wanted someone just to turn up and give the same old speech you should have picked somebody else.’
Dave Macfarlane, General Secretary of the London BPA, said: ‘I am sick and tired of white people coming to us to insult us, he’s like the BNP in the 1980’s.’
Vinny Tomlinson from the Merseyside branch accused the MP of ‘demonstrating ignorance and immaturity’ in his lack of understanding of race issues.
While US black police leader Ron Hampton told delegates in a reference to the MP: ‘You can’t allow people to disrespect you. Don’t for one minute think what he said carries any weight.’
Commander Ali Dizaei, President of the NBPA, said he didn’t accept the criticism. He said a white person could become an ‘associate member’ and added: ‘The organisation was created to represent the needs of ethnic monorities.’
Mr Dizaei, who is one of Britain’s most senior ethnic minority police officers, was suspended in September over links to a ‘crooked lawyer’ revealed in the Daily Mail.
The Metropolitan Police Authority took the decision to suspend him pending an inquiry into three separate allegations of misconduct.
Yesterday Mr Dizaei, 46, refused to comment on the matter except to say:’Everybody is innocent until they are proven guilty.’
Despite the furore over his conduct, Mr Dizaei made a keynote speech to the conference calling for ‘radical’ action to increase the use of ethnic minority officers in tackling terrorism and knife crime.
He also said the government should introduce a league tables style system for marking individual police force performance on the issues of race and equality.
The Home Office could punish the worst performers by reducing funding, he said.